Our founders, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley, believed passionately that our connection with land, artistic expression, and cultural and historical legacies are essential to our humanity. They were deeply committed to the communities in which they lived – the Chicago region and the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

We use a variety of strategies and tools to achieve our mission, depending on the goals of a particular program or region.


We make multi-year, general operating grants to strengthen organizations because we trust that they know how to best focus their resources.


We make grants for projects to advance regional goals, capacity building to advance organizational strength, and advocacy work to advance policy.


We convene grantees and partners as experts in their fields so we can learn from each other, build relationships and foster collaborative action.


We host trainings, workshops, and symposiums to connect our fields with current topics.


We make program-related investments (loans, guarantees, and letters of credit) to grantees for key major projects which would not otherwise advance.


We seek diverse and alternative investments for our endowment that advance, and do not run counter to, our mission.


We partner with other funders to leverage our impact and build relationships.